Archive for September, 2013

Bound By Night-Larissa Ione

September 29, 2013

Bound By Night
Larissa Ione
Pocket, Sep 24 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781476700175

When Nicole Martin was a young child, her father told her that animals can be domesticated but never tamed and that vampires are animals. The vampires, including most of those in the Martin household, revolt. They kill most of Nicole’s family and her beloved nanny Terese, who though a vampire died protecting her.

Years later the horror that happened when she was eight shapes her as the adult; Nicole works at the Daedelus Corporation seeking a means to eradicate vampires a. Moonbound Clan leader Hunter directs Riker to lead an assault on the Martin compound in order to take hostages. They need humans to exchange for captured ShadowSpawn Clan vampiress Neriya before in-fighting occurs. Riker, still grieving the death of his mate Terese and knowing her family enslaved his, abducts Nicole; but loathes himself for desiring the human sworn to bring his species to extinction.

The first Moonbound Clan Vampires paranormal romance is an action-packed star-crossed urban fantasy. The clan’s hatred of Nicole sets a strong background, but the heroine becomes a Stockholm syndrome victim to the lead male protecting her. Although her cooperation happens faster than the speed of light and supersedes to quickly years of revenge motivation, fans will enjoy this heated cross species thriller.

Harriet Klausner

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Tropic of Darkness-Tony Richards

September 25, 2013

Tropic of Darkness
Tony Richards
Pocket, Sep 17 2013, $1.99
ISBN: 9781476727097

In 1958, a disgusted and disappointed Meyer Lansky flies from Vegas to Havana. Two big goons meet him at the airport to tell him that Mario Mantegna is acting strange by insisting she is “under my skin” and he needs her back. Meyer confronts Mario though a closed hotel suite door; instead of responding Mario kills himself.

In 1995, Frank returns from a business trip to his home in Toronto. His wife Ellen notices him acting strange as he sings in his sleep about a girl “under my skin”. She can’t wake him up so calls Dr. Hague; Frank kills himself with a knife.

A few days after Frank’s suicide, Jack Gilliard arrives in Havana. This is his latest stop while on his decade-long musical tour of the world with his cornet since he left his unhappy home in America when he was a teenager; his only other possession he prizes is a knife. Jack hopes to play some gigs in Cuba, but instead has haunting dreams of the Mafia ruling the island in the 1950s and Castro’s revolution. Disoriented Jack soon learns of an ancient curse involving a girl “under my skin” that once inside his head leads to suicide; to escape he must leave the island before he becomes the latest person singing I’ve Got You Under My Skin” as his funeral hymn.

Putting aside the late great Cole Porter’s reaction, Tropic of Darkness is an exciting horror thriller as the past haunts the present. Flashbacks add depth to understanding the curse and the related betrayal with Jack, due to his past, as the latest target of the darkness.

Harriet Klausner

Four Summoner’s Tales-Kelly Armstrong, Christopher Golden, David Liss, and Jonathan Maberry

September 23, 2013

Four Summoner’s Tales
Kelly Armstrong, Christopher Golden, David Liss, and Jonathan Maberry
Gallery, Sep 17 2013, $16.00
ISBN 9781451696684

“Suffer The Children” by Kelly Armstrong. A few centuries ago, a diphtheria epidemic wiped out over thirty percent of the isolated population of Chestnut Hill, Canada with many of the victims children. Two strangers offer the grieving townsfolk a chance to bring back those who died within the last 96 hours but the preacher and tweener orphan Addie warn the others but they prove too late when remittance of the usury price occurs.

“Pipers” by Christopher Golden. The Matamoros Cartel terrorizes the border town of Lansdale, Texas with almost two dozen murders as retaliation for the interference into their trafficking by the Texas Volunteer Border patrol. Angry resident Vickers tells those who lost someone to the brutal cartel that the time for revenge is now. He wants to raise an army of their undead loved ones.

“A Bad Season For Necromancy” by David Liss. In eighteenth century England, the con artist uses the book for raising the dead to blackmail wealthy widows who do not want the return of am angry husband.

“Alive Day” by Jonathan Maberry. In Afghanistan, Captain Joe Ledger and his Echo Team back-up Rattlesnake Team on a counterdrug mission against the Taliban, but instead the Americans confront something deadlier that later none of the survivors can provide a rationale explanation for.

These four diverse fantasies share the premise of “A strange visitor comes to town, offering to raise the townsfolk’s dearly departed from the dead—for a price.” Each is chillingly well written, but the standout is David Liss’ clever historical.

Harriet Klausner

Soul Kissed-Erin Kellison

September 22, 2013

Soul Kissed
Erin Kellison
Zebra, Sep 3 2013, $7.99
ISBN: 9781420118988

With the Shadow magically poisoned, the pandemic rapid spread of the plague threatens all of magekind. Cari Dolan knows first-hand the impact as her father, powerful head of a major House, lies dead from this scourge. However, she is not allowed time to grieve, curse her loss or understand the magic she inherited with her dad’s death; the Council orders her to team up with unaffiliated Mason Stray to learn who deployed the deadly disease and hopefully with this assailant find the cure or prevention.

As a youngster Cari was attracted to the dynamic outsider, but loathes that she still is. Mason distrusts anyone belonging to the Houses especially an untested pampered tyro leader when his son is in peril. He also feels like a traitor because he detests his attraction to his teammate.

The lead couple is a wonderful pairing of forbidden love in the latest Shadow Kissed romantic urban fantasy (see Fire Kissed). Although the lead couple is a delightful teaming of distrusting amateur sleuthing mages, the sinister villain owns the thrilling whodunit storyline. Readers will relish this entry in the Kellison Shadow realm.

Harriet Klausner

The Undead Hordes of Kan-Gul-Jon F. Merz

September 22, 2013

The Undead Hordes of Kan-Gul
Jon F. Merz
Baen, Sep 3 2013, $15.00
ISBN: 9781451639162

Ran the Shinobujin of the Nine Daggers Clan in the Gakur Mountains begins his post-graduation shugyo travels amidst the outside world, but lacks funds to pay for passage across the Dark Sea. At a bar, he observes a man place a knife against the throat of a wealthy patron; interceding Ran rescues Vargul the northern trader. To thank the Good Samaritan, Vargul, who is shipping goods on the Aqaria across the Dark Sea, pays for Ran’s passage to Chulai.

On board, Ran meets Kancho the drunk but knows the man is faking his intoxication to hide that he is a Murai warrior, and Neviah bodyguard to Jysal the young woman journeying to join a temple. At sea, a horrific torrent forces the ship off course until the Aqaria beaches on the reefs near the Cliffs of Doom with most on board dead. The captain and five passengers (as named above) make it to the beach. The next day Vulgar has vanished and by the following morning, only Ran and Jysal remain on the beach unaware that Kan-Gul the sorcerer has brought them here to take the young lady’s power in order to amplify his own; he deploys his shadow warrior undead hordes to destroy anyone in his path.

The first Shadow Warrior fantasy is an exciting ninja vs. zombie thriller. The fast-paced storyline deploys a teen slasher premise to eliminate the stranded one at a time rather than a swift deployment of magic or the horde. Readers will enjoy this opening act as the two remaining survivors fight for their lives against The Undead Hordes of Kan-Gul.

Harriet Klausner

The Savage Dead-Joe McKinney

September 21, 2013

The Savage Dead
Joe McKinney
Pinnacle, Sep 3 2013, $6.99
ISBN: 9780786029303

U.S. Senator Rachel Sutton is the most vocal opponent of the Mexican drug cartels in Congress. Her strong adversarial statements and the powerful law she sponsored anger the trafficker leaders like Ramon Medina who has attempted failed assassinations of Sutton; but were thwarted by Secret Service agents Juan Perez and Tess Compton who so far have kept “Piper” as the senator is called safe.

In Galveston, Sutton boards the Gulf Stream cruise ship for some needed R&R. However, Medina sends his top field operative Monica “Pilar” Rivas undercover on the vessel. Rivas releases Dr. Rosato’s modified clostridium bacteria on the Gulf Stream; turning people into flesh eating zombies. As the biological weapon spreads rapidly, Compton protects Piper from the lethal zombies and Rivas.

The latest Dead World urban fantasy (see Mutated, Dead City, Apocalypse of the Dead and Flesh Eaters) is an exhilarating sidebar thriller that takes place in a confined environment making it easier for the zombies to attack ( to the delight of Z fans). Though the reanimation starts later than the usual Joe McKinney Dead World horror novels and the cartel villains caricatures, readers will enjoy the undead horde ripping flesh in a closed limited area; just don’t read this taut tale if you are vacationing on a cruise ship.

Harriet Klausner

23 Years on Fire-Joel Shepherd

September 20, 2013

23 Years on Fire
Joel Shepherd
Pyr, Sep 10 2013, $16.95
ISBN 9781616148096

Though accepted by most Federation citizens on Calley, former League cyborg Commander Cassandra Kresnov still has lingering doubts that she possesses the full range of human emotions especially when religious fanatics remind her that she and her kind are abominations. Sandy leads an assault on the Federation planet Pyeongwha where Neural Cluster Tech experiments to eliminate disease have turned into a social harmonious disastrous caste system proving dangerous for those civilians without NCT left in the ooze under the food chain.

After successfully completing the mission on Pyeongwha, Sandy leads her veteran unit to New Torah where corporations still thrive. On Pantala, newly created advanced soldiers threaten the peace. However not only facing more advanced technological militia machines, betrayal leaves Sandy in danger while street children she encounters places her mission in further jeopardy.

The latest Cassandra Kresnov military science fiction (see Crossover and Killswitch) is an exhilarating action-packed thriller. The protagonist is terrific as she works two military missions that as an emotional byproduct make her feel more human than she has ever felt before though I would have preferred more insight into the social caste experiment on Pyeongwha even with the Patala escapade being super. 23 Years On Fire is a strong entry as Sandy seems more human than many purebreds as she learns once again how inhuman humans can be to others while she also feels a strong need to protect those most vulnerable.

Harriet Klausner

Skirmishes-Kristine Kathryn Rusch

September 20, 2013

Skirmishes
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG, Sep 10 2013, $18.99
http://www.wmgpublishing.com
ISBN: 9780615795249

The hostilities between the Nine Planets Alliance and the Enterran Empire remains heated as both claim the ancient alien technology as theirs. Each side understands that ownership means gaining an enormous advantage in the galaxy.

Perhaps the best diver into the wreckages of the thousands of vessels is Boss and her Nobody’s Business Two crew. They enter the Boneyard, the largest known graveyard found so far, in an effort to strengthen the Alliance against the Empire by recovering the ancient Dignity Vessels equipped with Stealth Tech. She also wants to learn what happened to Captain Jonathan “Coop” Cooper five millennia ago; while at the same time he and his Ivoire crew and their sister ship the Shadow use alien anacapa drives to guard the Alliance border with the Empire. However, as Boss and her team struggle with the Boneyard, an Empire fleet of ten battleships and five other vessels confronts Coop and his two weapon superior ships.

The latest Diving Universe science fiction (see City of Ruins, Diving Into The Wreck and Boneyards) is a fabulous outer space thriller that rotates perspective between the divers, the Alliance and to a lesser degree the Empire. Action-packed and filled with twists yet allowing the reader to understand the motives of the key players, Skirmishes is another intelligent exciting voyage into the Rusch Diving universe.

Harriet Klausner

Cain’s Blood-Geoffrey Girard

September 18, 2013

Cain’s Blood
Geoffrey Girard
Touchstone, Sep 3 2013, $25.99
ISBN 9781476704043

In Pennsylvania, six young subjects escape from the Dynamic Solutions Technology Institute, but not before they massacred most of the staff and took a few as prisoners. Also missing is Dr. Gregory Jacobsen who led the cloning experiment and probably abetted the escape by the six clones of notorious serial killers.

Special Ops veteran Shawn Castillo leads the search for the murderous clones starting at the DSTI facility and then Dr. Jacobson’s home. He quickly learns that the scientists created more subjects than they reported with some adopted by unaware caring families. Jacobsen kept one child with him, Jeffrey who recently learned that his true sire is Dahmer. With Jeffrey as his sidekick, Castillo hunts the killers.

This is a taut DNA thriller filled with insight and asides into cloning that enhance the horror of what Jacobson and others have wrought though the lead geneticist is no regretting “Modern Prometheus” (Mary Shelley). Once again as with the YA companion piece Project Cain, the underlying premise that the military would consider using serial killers seems wrong; as besides being loners psychologically unfit for a cohesive unit, consider the PR from news media telling grieving moms that their child died from a Dahmer clone in a friendly fire incident. Still this is an action-packed suspense that makes a strong cautionary case when it comes to cloning humans.

Harriet Klausner

The Demon’s Wife-Rick Hautala

September 18, 2013

The Demon’s Wife
Rick Hautala
JournalStone, Sep 13 2013, $18.95
http://www.journalstone.com
ISBN: 9781936564958

In Portland, Maine, lonely and bored Claire McMullen works as a purchasing agent for Montressor; her time spent inside her broom closet-sized office is listening to a Philadelphia radio station streaming over the internet and checking out social media sites. She shares an apartment with Sally Lewis, who persuades Claire to stop at the Margarita Grille before they see The Economy perform.

At the Grille, Sally flirts with Samael, but he focuses on Claire. When someone assaults her just outside, Samael rescues Claire. She goes to the hospital, but once released Samael takes her home. When they finally make love, Claire is stunned by his lack of the usual male tools and by how sensational his tail proves to be. However, Claire fears he wants her soul for some nefarious purpose besides love’s redemption. As Samael makes his case that they belong together, raging demons believe this coupling is a sinful transgression of the natural order and must end with the human banished for eternity.

The Demon’s Wife is an engaging romantic urban fantasy starring two fascinating characters falling into a taboo love that shakes the eternal cold war order of Heaven and Hell. Fast-paced with plenty of action and strange bedfellows; the demons mount a campaign to end this immoral horror and the angels reluctantly protect the partnering. Samael’s reformation never feels right as he recognizes his nasty history though love enables him to say Honest to God. Still fans will appreciate the late Rick Hautala’s wicked relationship drama; summed up by Milton in Paradise Lost: “The mind is its own place, and in itself can make a heaven of hell, a hell of heaven.”

Harriet Klausner